Sandra Chaloux

| 08/11/2016

Cupping: It’s Not Just For Olympic Athletes

Cupping: It’s Not Just For Olympic Athletes

If you’ve been tuning into the Summer Olympics in Rio, you’ve seen the telltale “polka dot” marks caused by cupping. You’ve probably also heard the discussions around why Olympic athletes are using it and seen a flurry of news article about it.

Cupping may be a new form of “alternative” medicine to you, but it has been around for thousands of years. Cupping is definitely not just for athletes. It has helped me in times when my overall energy level was low, but more on my experience later. First, let’s answer some basic questions about it.

What is cupping?

Cupping is a form of “alternative” medicine that is typically used in association with acupuncture. It uses cups and the power of suction to improve blood circulation and promote healing.

The use of cupping therapy by Egyptians is described in one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, which dates back to 1,550 BC. Cupping also has ties to ancient Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures.

How does it work?

Some practitioners use heat to encourage suction, while others use a simple pump. Either way, a vacuum is created within the cup, causing the skin to rise and redden as blood vessels expand, blood flow increases, and stagnated blood rises to the surface.

Depending on your situation, you can expect the cups to be left in place for one to three minutes. If you or your practitioner feel more time is needed, the cups can be left on for several more minutes.

What can it treat?

Olympic athletes generally use it to treat and reduce muscle inflammation, but it has a wide range of medical uses for acute and chronic problems such as:

Metabolism issues

Poor blood circulation

General health


Shoulder pain


Back pain

Neck pain

Sports injuries

Low energy/malaise


Blood pressure

Anxiety and depression

Congestion due to allergies and asthma


Who is it most helpful for?

As I mentioned above, cupping is not just for athletes. Just about anyone can use it, though it is not recommended for pregnant women, young children, people with internal or external bleeding, open wounds, recent operations, heart problems or a pace-maker.

Does it hurt?

There is a slight sting while the skin is in the cup, but the stinging sensation disappears once the cups are removed.

How long do the marks last?

Some marks will dissipate by the next day, while other marks may take several days to a week to disappear. The more stagnated the area, the darker and more purple the circles are afterward. After your first treatment, the circles will be dark. After subsequent treatments, the circles left behind are lighter and lighter.

My experience

I have used cupping to increase overall energy and metabolism along with acupuncture. After a few sessions of cupping (My acupuncturist uses cups attached to a pump), I was so happy with the results that I decided to buy a cupping set. My acupuncturist's partner showed my husband how to use the cups on my back, so I can continue the practice at home whenever I feel I need it.

Keep your health and wellness front and center in your life!

About the author: Sandra Chaloux is the founder of Wellness Hub –the leading source for holistic health information in the United States.


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